How to Avoid Fraud When Choosing an Immigration Attorney
In our fast-paced society, most people looking for an Immigration lawyer go directly to the internet and seek out what they need in an instant rather than wait on receiving a referral from a friend.
When conducting a search for an Immigration lawyer, it is a good idea to keep the following points in mind so that the attorney you choose can save you costly mistakes such as a denied visa.
- Go to the state Bar Website. In California for example, visit the California Bar Association website and review the attorney’s records for any disciplinary actions.
- Is the attorney a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)?
- Does the attorney have experience with the type of visa matter that you need help with? For example, some Immigration lawyers work only in the area of business visas such as H-1B, E-2, TN, O-1 P-1, L-1 and Employment based Green Cards) and other attorneys work on matters concerning family, criminal, asylum, deportation, waivers, etc.
- Does the attorney have actual experience or does the firm state they have “combined experience” which means they refer to the experience of all the attorneys in the office.
- What is the reputation of the attorney among his or her peers found under peer endorsements?
- What are previous clients saying about the attorney in client reviews on websites such as AVVO?
- Does the Attorney have awards and certifications such as a specialty designation?
- Is the Attorney telling you what you want to hear instead of telling you what you need to hear concerning the law and facts of your case?
- Immigration is Federal Law so it does not matter if the Attorney takes a case outside of the state in which he or she is licensed. For example, a California licensed Attorney may take a client’s case that resides in Texas or any other state.
Beware of Notarios and Unauthorized Practice of Law
In the United States, with very few exceptions, only attorneys (abogados) are allowed to practice law. None of the exceptions involve immigration law. This means that anyone claiming they can help you with your immigration issues must be an attorney. Otherwise, they cannot legally help you. If someone claims to be a notario public or notary public, and tells you that they can help you with, they are being dishonest with you. Please do not be fooled by someone who shows you a notary public license and tells you that they are allowed to practice law in the United States. Notarios have been known to take the life savings of those they promise to help.
If you are not certain whether someone is a lawyer, there are two ways you can find out.
- Look for a website of a state authority where you can look and see if someone is a licensed attorney. In California, that website is run by the State Bar of California.
- Call the state licensing board and ask if the person is licensed to practice law. The number in California is 415-538-2000.
Contact Johanna Keamy for Help
Please don’t be fooled. Make certain that you hire an experienced immigration attorney to help you with your immigration matters. Johanna Keamy has been practicing immigration law for years. You can trust her to provide you with the legal assistance you need. Contact her today at 619- 546-0285.
***AILA has worked to ensure that immigrants are competently represented and not forced to use the often-unscrupulous services of a local notario or unauthorized immigration consultant. AILA has created StopNotarioFraud.org, a comprehensive consumer website with information and resources to immigrants to avoid being defrauded by a notario, and where to get help if they are harmed.